Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The nation of fairness creams, India's obsession with fair skin

I have forever wondered about the nations obsession with fairness. I must confess, this is something that is prevalent in my immediate family as well. Considering that most of the women I found attractive were dusky or dark skinned, I never really understood the obsession. It must be noted that this demand for fairness is not just limited to ladies, but even gents are graded on the color of their skin. I recently saw this TVC or whatever those programs are called where they sell stuff, not by creative advertising, but depicting it as a user-experience. The script went something like this:

"Two guys walk into an office. The security guy stops the darker guy stating workers can't go in, only the boss can. The other guy states that the darker guy is the boss and he is just an assistant. The dark guy goes back home and thinks about how everywhere he goes, he is thought to be of working-class or some such because he is dark skinned"

I changed channels at this point, but you should note the annotations that this commercial has, which are:

  1. Working class or lower class people in India are all dark.
  2. Even security guards disrespect people who are dark.
  3. Dark skinned people get no respect anywhere.
  4. Irrespective of how you dress, your skin color indicates whether you are rich or poor.

Another advertisement that I saw a long time back was abut this girl who was dark, but had got a groom who was really fair. Everyone around said that she was really lucky to have got such a fair groom. Then she comes across this fairness cream which transforms her and on the wedding event, people start commenting on how lucky the groom is. What did they mean to intend? The luck of bride and the groom are determined solely on how fair the other partner is? Let alone the fact that she looked pretty nice even with the black pain over her.

Currently, Nandita Das (whom I have liked since 1947 Earth) is working on a Dark Is Beautiful campaign. This is one really awesome campaign, that should be spread around as much as possible. The myth of fairness is imbibed in our culture and I have seen a lot of people either losing self esteem over their skin tone. I have also witnessed some dark skinned people themselves commenting on other peoples dark skin tone. I am surprised when people who have trouble with skin tones cry racism when something happens in the western nations where skin tone has become almost a non-issue, and is on the way to be completely wiped out.